Eco Comments

Quoting the recent AQI of Kolkata & Delhi that hits "Severe" category, what measures you can suggest to improve it or to prevent it in the future?

What are your views on this?

Comments from Our Team Members

According to World Health Organization, among the 20 most polluted cities in the world, 14 are from India. On an average Indian citizens are exposed to PM2.5 concentrations between 15 and 32 times more than the air quality guidelines set by the World Health Organization which leads to serious health hazards.

India already has Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act since 1981 to control air pollution. In addition to its following government initiatives has been launched in the past few years to reduce air pollution, these included reduction in particulate matter emissions by Coal Power Plants (Ministry of Power), setting emission standards for brick manufacturing industry and facilitating management of agricultural residues to reduce stubble burning (Ministry of Environment), stricter vehicle emission regulation and up gradation of vehicles to more fuel efficient standards (Bharat VI).

Following measures can be adopted in addition to Government Act and initiatives to reduce air pollution :

  • • Government should provide incentives to the farmers for removing the stubble from the roots instead of burning.
  • • Provide tax benefits for buying electric vehicles
  • • Regular monitoring of construction Site
  • • Government should strictly regulate the emission level of thermal plants and industries
  • • Increase the landscape area by planning sustainable buildings

We, as a citizen, should understand reducing air pollution is not only the responsibility of Government, until we won’t realize the severity of air pollution it will be difficult to curb air pollution.

- Rahul Yadav

Air Pollution is not restricted to one city, it’s a global phenomenon. According to the WHO Report, Indian cities suffer the most because of air pollution. Air pollution threatens us all, but the poorest and most marginalized people bear the brunt of the burden. The World Health Organization also reported that 93 percent of all children in the world breathe air with pollution levels that exceed their guidelines. Many different air pollutants can impact health - nitrogen oxide, carbon monoxide and ozone are among them. But the database classifies air pollution in two ways : by PM 2.5, particles smaller than 2.5 microns in diameter, and by PM 10, particles that are 10 microns in diameter. The smaller PM 2.5 particles from sources like open flames and diesel exhaust can linger in the air longer and penetrate deeper into the lungs than larger particles, which is why they are the bigger concern for health officials and a high-priority target for reduction. Frequent unhealthy levels of pollution from sources ranging from vehicles to the burning of coal and wood for cooking, dust storms, or forest fires affect most of the country.

With the right kind of push and pull measures, it would be possible to reduce the level of air pollutants. By replacing existing cook stoves with clean cook stoves, reducing pollution from diesel transport and restricting open burning of biomass and fossil fuels are the major steps which would help curb the problem. Liquid petroleum gas and electricity, along with biogas and ethanol are some of the clean energy alternatives. India could cut its total air pollution by one third overnight by giving clean cooking stoves to all the villagers. It is important to recommend people to avoid strenuous outdoor activities and minimize the use of private vehicles to reduce exposure to toxic air. Use of water-based or solvent free paints whenever possible and buy products that mention "low VOC", keeping automobiles well-tuned and maintained, following the manufacturer’s instructions on routine maintenance, such as changing the oil and filters, and checking tire pressure and wheel alignment are some of the measures which can be incorporated in our daily life. A small change in our day to day life can make a big difference and help to overcome the problems of pollution.

- Chaitra Poojary

India being developing country there are various environmental problems faced by the country. Air pollution being of the major problem, country facing these days. India is heading towards the worst air quality. The major part of the country being effected is the Northern belt. Reasons for the air pollution in this regions is Vehicular Emissions, burning of crop residues. But one of the factor in this states for air pollution is effect of temperature inversion and stable wind conditions.

Low temperatures and calm winds are characteristic features of Northern India. Calm wind prevents dispersion of pollutants and temperature inversion tends to trap the pollutants. Thus increasing concentration of pollutants. The formation of low pressure troughs across this region causes winds to converge, resulting in trapping of local, as well as pollution from outside. Loose alluvial soil of the belt, contributes towards dust particulates in the air. Also the major problem of air pollution in country is its Thermal Power Generation.

The measures to reduce air pollution should be taken by every individual. The following measures can be taken to reduce air pollution and its effects :

  • Using of public transport and carpooling.
  • Shifting to cleaner methods of electricity.
  • Using recycled water to spray on roads, as measure of dust suppressants.
  • Applying stringent traffic rules.
  • Plantation of native trees along roadsides and in open spaces.
  • Uprooting crop residues instead of burning of farm lands, saving both quality of soil and air.
  • Creating awareness among the people of pollution.
  • Adopting to sustainable method of living. India has sustainable living since ancient times. Thus never forget the roots.
- Mugdha Gaonkar

According to the recent report of NITI Aayog, India is facing a serious water crisis and by 2030, the country’s water demand is predicted to be double its available supply.

What steps you feel should be taken to ensure Sustainable Management of the Available Water?

Comments from Our Team Members

India is a diverse country. It harbors different religions, ethnicities, and species, and until now more or less our natural resources have supported this development. However, the burden of the anthropogenic actions has exceeded the tolerance power of nature and therefore, India—which has been blessed with water resources might soon turn into a water-scarce country. The rains have failed us. Nothing new to this country, but this time rains’ come on an already low-rain and, in many places, no-rain ground situation. It is now time for Indians to say “A Drought is coming”.

The index prepared by the NITI Aayog claims that, by 2020, as many as 21 major cities of India will run out of the water and face ‘day zero’—a term that got popular after the major water crisis in Cape Town in South Africa.

With an increase in population, there will be an increase in water scarcity in the country. Increased urbanization increases the pressure on urban water demand. To meet the needs of a growing population and growing industrialization, extraction of groundwater is done on large scale. Overexploitation of groundwater will lead to famine conditions in the country, as 80% of groundwater is used for agriculture purpose. In the near future country’s GDP will fall down by 6% with water scarcity. Therefore, to tackle the problem of water scarcity, the following methods should be implemented:

• Make water management data available on the public platform.
• Create innovative products to utilize 100% of the water.
• Implement policies to improve the performance of water management.
• Educate masses to change consumption and lifestyles.

- Mugdha Gaonkar

According to the Government, India is suffering from the worst water crisis in its history and around 600 million people face a severe water shortage. Approximately 200,000 people die every year due to inadequate access to clean water and it’s only going to get worse as it is estimated that 21 cities are likely to run out of groundwater by 2020.

There is an immediate need to deepen our understanding about the available water resource and usage and put in place interventions that make our water use efficient and sustainable. According to the 2012 World Bank Report, India is the largest consumer of groundwater in the world.

About 230 cubic km of groundwater is used every year due to which the groundwater level is diminishing. This crisis can be tackled by restoring and enhancing groundwater recharge areas, restoration of ponds, lakes and river system, rainwater and roof top harvesting is one of the best method. Planning and adapting proper groundwater management strategies are required to secure, sustain and rejuvenate the accessible ground water. These measures if incorporated can help our country to transform from a ‘groundwater deficient’ to ‘groundwater sufficient’ nation and provide sustainable water availability for about one-fifth of the global population.

The eventual goal is to broaden the participation parameters and allow sector experts to share innovation and create innovative products that tackle the problems. With the possibility of open application programming interfaces (APIs), a bouquet of diverse expertise can contribute to improve, emphasize and normalize sustainable water-management practices.

-Chaitra Poojary

As per June 2018, NITI Aayog’s Report named (Composite Water Management Index for 2016-2017) nearly 600 million Indians face high to extreme water stress. This is an alarming situation as the major portion of water available to us is non-potable; the condition will be more severe in the coming future. To overcome this crisis, steps need to be taken at local, community as well as on administrative level.

Overexploitation of groundwater should be completely prohibited; groundwater should be extracted by obtaining appropriate permission from CGWA strict laws should be formed against violators who are overexploiting groundwater. Environmental consequences of groundwater exploitation need to be effectively explained to locals by local Government Bodies, Gram Sabhas etc. ZLD should be made mandatory for every industry so that fresh water load may be reduced to the certain extent. Coastal areas should focus on desalination of water as it can serve as the major relief and will reduce water demand for e.g. Nemmeli Seawater Desalination Plant at Chennai which supplies water to Chennai city. Rainwater harvesting should be made mandatory for each and every complexes / industries.

At an administrative level, Governmental Agencies should work together and make sure that clean and safe drinking water is accessible to every citizen. Degradation of water sources by pollution from various point and non-point sources should be reduced; Governmental Agencies should ensure that surface water is not polluted by discharge of any untreated effluent. For drought-prone areas, Watershed Management and minor Irrigation Projects would be suitable which should be allowed and encouraged to be developed by the local communities, with technical and financial help from the Government and NGOs. At the national level, states which are under-performing in Composite Water Management (CWM) should work in collaboration with the best CWM management states, so that techniques and steps adopted by best composite water management states can be adopted in their states.

-Rahul Yadav

India is a producer of 2 Million Tones/Year of E-waste in World. Despite stringent Government Regulations, 80% of E-waste handled by unorganized sector.

So do you think there is need for sound management?

Comments from Our Team Members

In earlier days municipal waste, mainly consist of biodegradable matter, it did not create much problem to the community as waste generated was either recycled or was reused directly as manure & it used to be within assimilative capacity of the local environment. The rapid urbanisation and change in life style has increased waste load of the society, with increased use of plastic and non-biodegradable material. This waste now also consists of electronic and electrical waste (E-waste) and biomedical waste. Making its way straight to the landfills resulting in ground water pollution because of harmful leachate formation.

In 2016, the E-Waste (Management) Rules placed responsibility on electronic goods manufacturing companies and bulk consumers to collect and channel e-waste from consumers to authorized reprocessing units. None of the manufacturer took efforts to act according to the rules.

Various unauthorized groups discard E-waste manually. The impact of e-waste on human health and environment is well documented. When electronic goods those have past their shelf life are broken down manually for precious metals or burnt or discarded in landfills, they contaminate land and water. Many of the workers are children, who work with their bare hands, dealing with enormous quantities of toxic metals. These workers are exposed to various occupational diseases. Some indirect impacts of unorganized handling of e-waste are diseases caused because of water and air pollution, effect on growth of plants etc. There is urgent need to scientifically handle disposal of E-waste, in order to reduce its impacts and to recover metals used in it

- Mugdha Gaonkar

India generates more than two million of electronic and electrical waste (E-waste) per year, and also imports undisclosed amounts of E-waste from other countries. It is estimated that more than 95% of India’s E-waste is processed by a widely distributed network of informal workers of rag pickers. They collect, dismantle and recycle it and operate illegally outside any regulated or formal organization system.

There is an increase in the quantity of E-waste because of increased consumption and also obsolescence. According to a study in May 2017, the volume of waste is growing at an estimated 21 percent annually. It is important that inventorization of the E-waste produced annually should be done by engaging an established government agency. If these waste are processed scientifically, valuable metals such as copper, silver, gold and platinum can be recovered from it which will help in managing the environment sustainably. It is important to create awareness as it is a key for both stakeholders and consumers. Also considering the adverse impact caused by untreated E-waste on land, the government should encourage the new and existing entrepreneurs by providing necessary financial support, technological guidance as well as by giving special concessions.

It is high time that the government takes proactive initiative to recycle and dispose E-waste safely to protect the environment and ensure the well-being of the general public and other living organisms.

Chaitra Poojary

In this technical era, where every electronic item is upgraded and replaced by latest one’s the quantity of E-waste is increasing enormously. India is the fifth largest electronic waste producer in the world. Although, there are various guidelines and rules directed by Government for E-waste management but there is a lack of awareness among common people about the ill effects of E-waste, thus they do not segregate e-waste and discard it along with common municipal solid waste which indirectly affects rag pickers, municipal workers etc.

Awareness need to be generated among people about the toxins and hazards associated with E-waste. Government should set up E-waste collecting units so that E-waste gets discarded in environmentally sound manner and the valuable material from it can be reused.

There should be regular audit by pollution control board or any designated Governmental agency to check whether bulk generators of e-waste follow the conditions which was incorporated by SPCB’s while granting permission to run unit.

- Rahul Yadav

Considering the current power scenario and advancement in solar technology.

Can solar energy be a mainstream power in India?

Comments from Our Team Members

Solar power offers best solution to fossil fuel emissions and global climate change. India is both densely populated and has high solar insulation, providing an ideal combination for solar power in India. India is already a leader in wind power generation. In solar energy sectors some large projects have been proposed.

India is a tropical country where sunshine is available for longer hours per day and in great intensity. Therefore, solar energy has great potential as future energy source and also has the advantage of permitting the decentralized distribution of energy, thereby empowering people at the grassroot level. Growing population along with increasing electrification and per-capita usage to drive growth in power consumption in coming years. In order to meet this increasing demand for electricity in the country, massive addition to the installed generating capacity is required. Using solar energy can help reduce the water consumption, carbon footprint, climate change and also help in conserving fossil fuel.

- Chaitra Poojary

As of March 2018, out of total installed power capacity, 57.9% is from coal whereas solar contributes to only 5.8%. Being a tropical country geographically, India has huge potential in generating solar energy as it receives solar radiation almost throughout the year.

As mentioned above, at present only 5-6% of total install power capacity is of solar no doubt there are ongoing projects which can in future increase power dependency of country to certain extent on solar but saying solar will be mainstream of power supply is difficult as there is huge gap between solar and coal which is major source of energy in country.

- Rahul Yadav

Maharashtra has become 18th state in India to enforce a complete ban on plastic bags.

But will the ban really work on the ground?

Comments from Our Team Members

With plastic pollution in the international attention, a plastic ban in Maharashtra stands out as an admirable example of India’s effort to align with environmental protection. There will be consequences of this, which needs to be addressed. Plastic manufacturers and recyclers will suffer from the negative impact of the ban. Other industries like packaging, clothing will also suffer, because of the plastic ban.

The plastic ban will be a complete success if the government doesn’t backtrack on it. Finding an alternate option to plastic cannot be a solution to be environment-friendly. Ban has only focused on littering of plastic, but complete reuse and reduction of plastic or its alternatives will help the environment to breathe. Plastic users and manufacturers should work on the principle of “Cradle to Cradle”.

The positive consequence of plastic ban can be seen distinctly only when there is public participation to avoid plastic use and littering of plastic.

- Mugdha Gaonkar

India generates about 5 million tones of plastic waste annually. In Maharashtra 3 to 5 % of all garbage generated consists of plastics. To combat this problem, Maharashtra Government finally enforced its well-planned ban on single use plastic items. Officials from Maharashtra Pollution Control Board and district and local administration has been authorized to implement this ban. The ban was imposed to minimize the environmental risks and harm caused to wild animals from accidental ingestion or entanglement.

Plastic is a threat to the environment as it made up of fossil fuel source such as natural gas and petroleum. Toxic chemicals bleed into our water from the plastic products that we use. As it is non biodegradable, it always exist in the environment, crowding the landfill and polluting the ocean. The ban can be successful only if the government suggest affordable alternatives to plastic. The actual implementation can become ineffective as people may find it difficult to get around it if no cheap alternatives are available.

- Chaitra Poojary

Banning plastic is an appreciable work and by doing so Maharashtra Government has took huge step in combating plastic pollution and risks associated with it. Plastic being major required commodity in every day to day life banning it will definitely have some impact on common people but if Government has appropriate planning and provides suitable substitute which can replace plastic, Surely this ban will be successful.

Government should also take stringent against people using plastic even after providing alternative to it. Implementing plastic ban on ground is a huge administrative work which can only be implemented with effective planning.

- Rahul Yadav